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As NorthPoint site development is expected to begin soon and expand East Cambridge neighborhood, some worry that the new residential and commercial complex will lack the authenticity and diversity of historic Cambridge and will fail to attract long-term residents. As pronounced as Boston’s housing shortage may be, the Seaport District, which is sometimes likened to the proposed NorthPoint development, currently has a nearly 12% residential vacancy rate. By comparison, the average residential vacancy rate in downtown is only around 2%. Do you think NorthPoint will make a successful extension of East Cambridge and attract a diverse pool of residents?

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Today, open-source technology is everywhere. Massive projects created and refined through collaboration with the public now impact us every day, even when we aren’t aware of it. Open-source software, operating systems, and web development tools are becoming crucial to many industries, and to the products and services those industries deliver. One amazing new example of this collaborative model recently caught my attention: WikiHouse.

WikiHouse is on open-source building system that allows people to design, 3-D print, and assemble sustainable, customizable homes. The idea was pioneered by a group of young entrepreneurs from London who believe that high-performance, low-cost, and low-energy homes that are manufactured locally can aid sustainability while empowering citizens and communities. Though the WikiHouse project is still in the development phase, demonstrations of the new construction system in several cities are already highlighting its advantages.

If you’re struggling to imagine how a house can be “open-source,” let me explain. WikiHouse takes a modular approach to design, which means each part of a construction project can be altered or substituted, allowing for completely customizable buildings. Once the design is complete, all parts are manufactured with precision by 3-D printers and automated tools called CNC machines. The parts are carefully tagged during manufacturing so they can be easily identified at the building site. Since the design process aims to minimize any chance of error during construction, a full-size WikiHouse can be assembled in only a few weeks!

If you think WikiHouses sound a lot like the once-popular Sears kit homes, you’re right, in a way. However, a WikiHouse combines the speed and convenience of the old kits with new technology that allows almost infinite customization, as well as easy maintenance and continuing improvements to the process. WikiHouses are also smart homes, incorporating a range of sensors and devices that let the owner control different systems in the new dwelling.

As of today, the only option available in the WikiHouse catalog is a tiny studio measuring 11.6 square meters. The cost of building the studio is estimated at 14,500 British pounds, and the studio can be assembled by three or four amateurs in about three days. Of course, this is still a beta version, and many improvements are expected. In fact, ongoing improvement could be considered the essence of the Wikihouse process! Though the project is still in its beginning stages, I’m very curious to see if this new idea can live up to its creators’ innovative vision.

Modular construction has been gaining more popularity in recent years helping save time and money as well as build more sustainably.  A Portuguese builder Jular has recently completed construction of a modular home that can expand over time as owners’ desires and needs change. Designed by Portuguese architects Appleton and Domingos, the Treehouse Riga home is a two-module, 44 sq. meter home that can be either rearranged or complemented by additional modules if desired. The designers emphasized flexibility and sustainability in their design. You can find some project photos and a more detailed project description here: Humble Homes

Cambridge’s Paul Ognibene, CEO Of Urban Spaces, Will Be Keynote Speaker At Major Real Estate Development Conference In Cambridge On July 26

Paul M. Ognibene, the founder and CEO of Cambridge-based real estate development company Urban Spaces, will be the Keynote Speaker at a conference, “The Future of Cambridge – Innovation, Community Engineering and the Spread of the Kendall Square Phenomenon” on Tuesday morning, July 26 at the Boston Marriott in Cambridge.

“Ever since I came to Cambridge to go to Harvard Business School, it has been amazing to see the growth of our city. Cambridge has become a national model for the right way to plan and grow. It will be very exciting to have the opportunity to talk about our city’s bright future-- not only what is happening next year, but five years from now and in the decades to come,” Paul Ognibene said.

“Our conference will be looking at the future of the city, in general, and specifically of the stretch we call the ‘First Street Corridor’ which connects Kendall Square to East Cambridge and the Lechmere MBTA station.”

About:

Paul M. Ognibene is the CEO of Urban Spaces, an award winning Cambridge-based real estate development company, which he founded in 2004. Urban Spaces develops mid-sized residential and commercial projects in growing neighborhoods, often in close proximity to public transportation, universities, hospitals, and employment hubs.

A graduate of Boston College and Harvard Business School, Ognibene and Urban Spaces are currently developing five sites in Cambridge.

visit the original article on city biz list - boston

Press release

Posted by Paul Ognibene on July 14, 2016

CAMBRIDGE’S PAUL OGNIBENE, CEO OF URBAN SPACES,

WILL BE KEYNOTE SPEAKER AT MAJOR REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT

CONFERENCE IN CAMBRIDGE ON JULY 26

Contact: Kathryn Estes 617 868-5558

paul ognibene

Paul M. Ognibene, the founder and CEO of Cambridge real estate development company Urban Spaces, will be the Keynote Speaker at a conference: “The Future of Cambridge – Innovation, Community Engineering and the Spread of the Kendall Square Phenomenon” on Tuesday morning July 26 at the Boston Marriott in Cambridge.

“Ever since I came to Cambridge to go to Harvard Business School, it has been amazing to see the growth of our city. Cambridge has become a national model for the right way to plan and grow. It will be very exciting to have the opportunity to talk about our city’s bright future-- not only what is happening next year, but five years from now and in the decades to come,” Paul Ognibene said.

“Our conference will be looking at the future of the city in general and specifically along the stretch which we call the “First Street Corridor” connecting Kendall Square to East Cambridge and the Lechmere MBTA Station.”

About:

Paul M. Ognibene is the CEO of Urban Spaces, an award winning Cambridge-based real estate development company, which he founded in 2004. Urban Spaces develops mid-sized residential and commercial projects in growing neighborhoods, often in close proximity to public transportation, universities, hospitals, and employment hubs.

A graduate of Boston College and Harvard Business School, Ognibene and Urban Spaces are currently developing five sites in Cambridge.

If you’ve been around Porter’s Square in Cambridge in the past few weeks, then you may have noticed a somewhat unusual new construction taking place on Massachusetts Avenue. Giant cranes were lifting prefabricated residential modules and assembling them into a new residential & commercial complex. The Rand, which is the name of our new development, will have 19 new condominium units and one single family home. The residential space will be accompanied with 4,000 square feet of retail space and off-street parking. Despite the obvious appeal of the brand new development, what makes the Rand truly unique is that it’s completely modular!

Believe it or not, modular construction has been around for way over a century. Perhaps, one of the best known examples of the early days of modular construction are the Sears homes. Pre- fabricated kit homes, produced by the famous Sears Roebuck Company, were sold in East Coast and Midwest states between 1908 and 1940. The homes were sold through a mail-order catalogue and then shipped to the lucky new owners via railroad boxcars. The Sears kits included everything a person needed to assemble the ordered home, which could be near 12,000 elements of buildings materials! According to the Sears catalogues, a kit home could be assembled in about 90 days! Many of those homes are still standing to this day.

While more than 70,000 Sears homes were sold by Sears Roebuck Company during its prime time, modular construction wasn’t well respected in the years that followed. However, in the more recent years, modular construction has made a well-deserved come back! The advantages of modern pre-fabricated modules are really far from trivial. First of all, as you have already learned from the Sears kit homes story, modular construction is fast. The amount of time it takes to put together a set of prefabricated modules into a single complex is significantly less than what is required in a conventional construction project. Second, modular construction is less expensive, which is particularly important in the cities like ours where demand for new housing significantly exceeds available supply. Finally, modular construction is more sustainable as it produces a lot less waste.

Next time when you pass by Porter’s square, you may want to stop and take a closer look at how modular buildings are assembled. However, you do need to hurry because unlike the never-ending Longfellow bridge construction, the Rand will be ready before you know it!

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